CHICAGO (CBS) — 4,000 stair-climbers were expected at this year’s Hustle Up the Hancock to raise money for the Respiratory Health Association.
Many of the climbers had very personal reasons for climbing 94 flights of stairs.
Diane Knoepke of Beverly was climbing in memory of her mother-in-law Carol.
“She died in 2012 after a long battle with interstitial lung disease. And we started doing it while she was alive, in her honor, and she had a sweatshirt she wore each year that said, ‘I have climbers.’ The last couple of years we’ve done it in her memory.”
Steve Ferkau of Chicago has cystic fibrosis. He led a team called Kari’s Climbers in memory of an Iowa teenager he never met.
“In the month before Kari died, she told her family twice how strongly she felt about organ donation. I breathe with Kari’s lungs.”
“Every year I have about a dozen of her volleyball teammates all come out and join my team and climb with me.”
And then, one of Kari’s friends did something extraordinary.
“After 12 years with Kari’s lungs, the drugs caused my kidneys to fail. Two years ago, one of Kari’s girlfriends, volleyball teammates and neighbors, gave me one of her kidneys as a living donor.
“So I’m slowly being rebuilt into a girl from Iowa. And it’s a good thing.”
Organizers say climbers this year have raised more than a million dollars for respiratory health research and programs.
This is the 17th annual Hustle Up the Hancock.